February 11, 2014

Meditations on Impermanence: Classic Quotes & Haunting Photos.

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 12.17.04 PM

One of the cornerstones of Buddhist philosophy is the belief that all material life is fleeting.

To attach ourselves to things, therefore, or even to feelings or people, is to attach ourselves to an illusion and guarantee dukkha or suffering. It is only by accepting the truth of impermanence that we can be free.

Following are a couple of haunting photographs of abandoned places which are a great starting point to allow ourselves to contemplate the meaning of transitions, as well as a collection of classic quotes which will inspire contemplation on change.

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 12.17.15 PM


Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 12.16.43 PM


“Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold,

Her early leaf’s a flower,

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf,

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day,

Nothing gold can stay.”

~ Robert Frost

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river, and he’s not the same man.”

~ Heraclitus

“Many have died; you will also die. The drum of death is being beaten. The world has fallen in love with a dream. Only the sayings of the wise will remain.”

~ Kabir, The Bijjak of Kabir

“I have no news of my coming or passing away. The whole thing happened quicker than a breath; ask no questions of the moth.”

~ Zen saying

“A thousand years ago, five minutes were
Equal to forty ounces of fine sand.
Outstare the stars; Infinite foretime,
And infinite aftertime, above your head,
They close like giant wings, and you are dead.”

~ Nabokov


“Nothing really dies, ” I told him. “It just turns into something else. Everything is always changing form. Do you remember the pumpkin that rotted into the earth in your garden? Tomatoes sprouted where it used to be. This bird will go back to the earth and turn into lavender and butterflies.”

~ Anne Cushman

“We are like the spider,
We weave our life and then move along in it.
We are like the dreamer who dreams, and then lives in the dream.
This is true for the entire universe.”

~ The Upanishads


“Last week, I understood the nature of impermanence. It’s not a terrible hole in our lives; it’s a wide open space ready to be lived. It is life.”

~ Sam Russell


“Renunciation is not giving up the things of this world, but accepting that they go away.”

~ Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Master

From Ozymandias

“I met a traveler from an antique land

Who said: two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the dessert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survived, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,

And on the pedestal these words appear:

“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty and despair!”

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

~ Percy Shelley


For more images and image credits, please follow this link.

Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!


Editor: Bryonie Wise




Read 1 Comment and Reply

Read 1 comment and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Erica Leibrandt  |  Contribution: 69,905